GENRE: Straight Feature
DATES OF PRODUCTION: 2003
LENGTH: 140 mins with bonus material
Whenever someone says that women make up the majority of porn buyers in the marketplace, people usually scoff. After all, the vision of a sophisticated lady walking into her local bawdy boutique and picking up a title like Busty Dildo Lovers 2 or A2M #3: The Art of Ass to Mouth seems ludicrous. While there has been a real shift in the dynamic driving porn into a more mainstream field (one toward sensuality and fantasy) the truth is, dirty pictures are getting dirtier. Most adult product panders directly to the more miscreant male member, and any additional demographic that gets its kicks along the way is welcome to grab some motion lotion and get it on as well. Still, there is a market out there for what can best be described as soft hardcore, a style of suck and fuck film where the emphasis is on dreamscape, and gonzo is chucked in the waste bin. These highly coordinated and choreographed romps through the standard pole positions can occasionally be a real pecker stretcher. Other times, the perfume and petticoats just get in the way of some good old crotch grinding exploits. One of the premier proponents of a more artistic, aesthetically pleasing form of sex film is Michael Ninn. With a name synonymous with experimentation and visual finesse, he is a living legend in the world of adult entertainment. Over the last decade his influence on porno has been so pervasive that some claim the rise in extreme/raw titles is a direct response of his more stylistic smut. Make no mistake about it, Ninn leaves an imprint with his pictures and Inside Myself is no different. A strangely evocative tale about a young woman (Anais) who has her innermost dreams dissected by an anonymous phone caller, it combines music video editing, post-production image processing and a great deal of lighting and location magic. It also has some extremely erotic hardcore action.
The story of Inside Myself is very basic, but also a little befuddling. Anais is alone in her loft apartment when her cellphone rings. Picking it up, she hears a sinister, if soothing voice on the other end. He calls himself her "guardian angel" and when she asks what he wants, he says "everything...and nothing." Throughout the course of their conversations, the unseen man taunts and teases Anais. He questions her deepest, darkest desires. He challenges her feelings of loneliness and arousal. Like a sexual game of quid pro quo, the more this menacing, masterful voice probes, the more uninhibited Anais becomes. Her fever dream fantasies seem to take hold and come alive. This folding of the unreal into reality becomes the basis for the scenes.
Each hardcore sequence starts off the same. While some incredibly complex and captivating techno-electronica pulsates across the soundtrack, we are treated to a cornucopia of video and film stock shots as a musical montage tosses images wildly at the viewer. Just as the visual jolts and paintbox strokes come to an end, our leading lady Anais (or one of the other women featured in the film) get in touch with themselves via fondling and masturbation (with lots of finger insertion). They pose and primp for the camera. After they get good and worked up, it's time for the one on one (or two on one) workout. And here is what we witness:
Scene 1: Anais, Mario Rossi
Our couple (all dressed in fetish-like black leather and vinyl) enters an atmospheric warehouse. It is lit in such a fashion that the shadows are long and the mood is one of mystery and peril. Anais crawls down Mario's chest and releases his cock. She sucks on it with great agility. After the professional pole polishing, Mario returns the favor. When he's finished finger licking her, it's time for some powerful missionary style pumping on a steamer trunk. During these acts, the camera moves in for some especially extreme close-ups. Particularly intriguing are the instances where Mario pulls out, lets his prick dangle above Anais's gaping hole, and then drives his dick back down deep into her. Thanks to a quick cut, we are off to visit that derivative dude ranch of the cinematic sexual position – otherwise known as reverse cowgirl. But there is a twist here, as Anais stays still and Mario, balancing in an odd way on the same steamer, thrusts up and into her. Unable to control his cum, Mario stands as Anais brings him to climax. His load lavishes her face and mouth. She sucks him clean and dry. With its Red Shoe Diaries meets XXX attitude, some may find the fornication between these two good-looking performers to be a tad too "pretty". Truth be told, it is a very erotic scene and the stylistic choices of Ninn only enhance, not distract, from the action. Score: 8/10
Scene 2: Anais, Elizabeth, Bret Rockman
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Elizabeth is a petite brunette with decidedly red streaks in her hair. She is wearing a very slinky latex dress (black, of course). She pleasures herself, posing in the same warehouse area, only now the floor is festooned with two very arty metal sculpture chairs. She is also dragging along a well-chiseled man (supposedly Bret Rockman – though his ID is hard to make out) who is wearing a complex leather getup and a face-covering muzzle. Enter Anais, dressed in a pseudo severe S&M outfit (black unitard with the tits cut out of it). Elizabeth goes down on Bret and works his worm with wonder. There is a nice amount of deep throating in this sequence and some of Ninn's trademark "BJ eyes" - seductive looks from our lapping lady directly into the camera. Bret is unleashed and unmasked and he takes this opportunity to chow down on Elizabeth's cunt. He loves to finger and tongue fuck her. While this is going on, Anais sits in one of the chairs and suggestively brandishes a rather large whip. Elizabeth and Bret assume the doggie position. A few minutes of up-close copulating and it's time to mosey on down the trail to reverse cowgirl country. At this point, Anais joins in, rubbing and fondling Elizabeth's clit and Bret's balls. After the bareback rider goes down the Hershey highway, Bret is ready to explode. Both Anais and Elizabeth enjoy a facial at the end of the mystery man's member. Again, this is another sizzling scene. Elizabeth is very vocal (maybe too much so) but she takes it as good as she gives it, and the voyeuristic aspect of having Anais simply sit back and watch just adds to the ambiance. Score: 8/10
Scene 3: Anais, Mia Smiles
In our only straight lesbian encounter in the set, our sultry star and her Asian paramour prepare to put on the pussy. Mia is wearing a red Hellraiser style bustier and sports a dog collar around her neck. She touches and fingers herself while in a stairwell. Anais meets up with her, takes the leash and leads her into a smaller room in the warehouse. An ornate chaise lounge resides there. The gals begin with some mutual masturbation. Anais gives Mia head and after a lot of lip bathing and digit diving, our Eastern Miss returns the favor. Eventually, a very long, very neon blue/green dildo makes an appearance. Straddling the lounge, Anais gets her hole hammered when Mia sticks the shaft substitute deep inside her. Churning the cheater like she's cleaning a chimney, Mia really ramrods Anais. They finish off by simulating oral sex on the ends of the double-headed dong. This is perhaps the most straightforward scene in the set. Ninn uses very little visual tricks to sell the same sex dynamics and aside from the vocal indications of arousal, the girls seem rather sedate here. Only when Mia starts drilling Anais's aperture with the rubber rod does the energy level pick up. Overall, an interesting, if not 100% sensual scene. Score: 6/10
Scene 4: Nikita Denise, Joey Ray, Mickey G
In what may be the ultimate message of the movie, Nikita Denise magically appears in Anais's apartment. Maybe Anais has turned into Nikita – it's not clear. She does seem to be a brunette version of the blond beauty and she begins the scene by moving about in a very familiar, focused fashion. She masturbates as a man (Joey Ray) enters. Nikita takes Joey's jock in her mouth and sends the shaft to slick lip Heaven. Soon, Joey joins the oral exercise as he eats Nikita's moist mound. After the cunnilingus is complete, we move to the twin Titans of sexual standards – doggie style and reverse cowgirl. Nikita takes a powerful pounding each time. During the rodeo ramifications, she spreads her legs wide open as if anticipating something special. Once Joey has relocated to her ass, the surprise is sprung. Mickey G, dressed in shiny black vinyl drops his drawers and plugs the little lady's only available crotch slot. What happens next is some of the hardest, rawest action in the set. Each man fucks the holy horseshit out of Nikita, dicks diving in and out of her overworked loins. Mickey even grabs her tits and smacks them in a very S&M fashion. Nikita's reaction? She loves every motherfucking minute of it. When the money shot arrives, it's a double dose of dude douche as Mickey, then Joey, squirts their seed all over Niki's face. She licks and sucks it up with glee. Along with Scenes 1 and 2, this double dose of dong is perhaps the hottest sequence in the film. Ninn keeps the atmosphere serene until it's time for the hardcore hole humping. Then it's grindingly graphic. While there is not a lot of tender passion here, this is still good old fashion fucking guaranteed to make you hard/wet and horny. Score: 8/10
Scene 5: Anais, Scott Styles
Anais finally confronts her phone caller in this scene, and we are supposed to discover some manner of closure in the sequence. With our lead dressed like a schoolgirl and draped over a desk, the incognito communicator (Scott Styles) starts off his "freeing" of Anais by eating her ass and licking her cunt from behind. After a while, he starts to finger and near-fist her vaginally while spanking her with increasing intensity. Dressed in a business suit (giving off a very authority figure vibe) he lets Anais undo his pants as it's time to put the meat to the mouth. After a long session of sucking, we proceed to some very hot straight desktop sex. Scott really "lays" into our heroine and she responds with sensual pleasure. With deep penetration out of the way, Scott visits the kennel via a vehement bout of doggie. Eventually, the couple moves from the desk and heads over to the wall, where brasher balling occurs. Scott finally prepares his prick and after a little manual manipulation, he pops his cork directly into Anais's mouth and face. She worships every last drop. The End. Selling the sex right up to the very end, this montage filled fuck festival concludes Inside Myself with style and steam. A nice, naughty exercise in nookie nuance. Score: 8/10
One thing you have to say about Michael Ninn's films: they have atmosphere and mood out (and into) the ass! Ninn knows the camera and the creation of interesting shot combinations, and his use of post-production tricks (saturation, de-saturation, slow motion and shuttered effects) really makes for visually stunning smut. But there is a real weird anti-male vibe that permeates this film, a sense that men are nothing but bodies attached to tools, unimportant for any other issue than providing peter. Scene 2 even purposefully masks its male lead's face with a leather muzzle (turns out it's Bret Rockman, listed on the DVD package but nowhere to be found in the film's credits) and never once gives us a real glimpse of his features. His head is always buried in bush or covered up by a cowgirling torso. Scott Styles, who plays the phone caller, is also hampered much of the time, his facade blurred and out of focus. The Dirge likes to see the interpersonal dynamics between the actors and watch a scene unfold in a natural, nuanced manner. While he cannot argue with the effectiveness of Ninn's work behind the camera, he can complain of a lack of medium shots. Mr. N works in either close-up or long shot, that's all. A chance to see the performers interrelate to each other would have bumped up each scene's score at least a point. Still, Inside Myself is something unusual in the realm of adult titles: an intriguing premise, well played by the entire cast and containing enough artistry and hardcore histrionics to make even the most callous porn fan fidget with their fly.
In a word: stunning. It is easy to see why Ninn is held in such high regard. He has a real artist's flair with the camera, allowing the lighting, the sets and the compositions to create atmosphere and tone. While this is a full frame – 1.33:1 – feature, the lack of letterboxing does not distract from Ninn's novel framing and filming. He is not afraid to let the camera explore, to show extreme or convoluted angles to emphasize the action. Along with the works of Robby D, the direction in this DVD and the way it is captured in the disc's transfer makes Inside Myself a terrific and tantalizing experience.
Again, the aural issues here are a treat. The music is moody and absolutely appropriate for the movie. The use of silence (except for the sounds of sex) in the scenes is perfect. It takes us out of the fantasy and places us squarely in the flesh. The Dolby Digital Stereo serves all this up with a balanced and earthy presentation. There is never a lo-tech feel or lack of warmth to the soundscape. Combined with the stellar video, this is some of the best looking and sounding porn around.
Aside from the standard 'caught on set' snapshots that look like outtakes from an editorial meeting at your standard skin rag, the best bit of bonus material is the 25-minute Behind the Scenes featurette. While we don't get to know much about Ninn or his style (he's hardly featured), we do learn a great deal about his cast. Anais seems to be a fairly bright and pleasant woman, not taking her position (or her porn) that seriously. Equally, Elizabeth appears perky and eager to please. Mia Smiles has a voice that betrays her exotic ways. Without dialogue, she's a mysterious maiden from the East. When she talks, it's Valley Geisha Girl time! The most interesting bits are the post coital chats with Anais and Nikita. Both have just finished taking a ton of goo into their mouths, yet they equally shrug off the sexcapades and discuss what just happened. Anais has praise for co-star Mario Rossi and he can't admire her enough. Nikita discusses the fact that double penetration is not the "roughest" sex she's ever had, and demonstrates with an enthusiastic Mickey G, the kind of spit and slap scene she is into (and Mickey responds like he's ready to go again!). Though the actual technological issues involved in Ninn's productions is hardly discussed, the people who make up the adult industry get a chance to show their genuine side in this interesting extra.
Final Thoughts: Inside Myself is Michael Ninn at his best: experimental, experienced and effortlessly expanding the notion of XXX exposition. Does Anais's trip into her own inner sex psyche deliver as a character study? Well, no. Are we satisfied with the way the narrative plays out, wandering between fantasy and reality? Not really. Could more have been done with the anonymous caller concept? Absolutely. But in the end, it's the fucking and the sucking that matters, not the internal logic of Nikita's double penetration subplot. And what Ninn does better than anything else is capture the raw power of two (or three) people enjoying each other physically. On the Disco Dirge Peter Meter, this DVD scores a solid 8 and is highly recommended for fans of fancy flesh feasts. Couples will also find a lot to copulate over and Cohabitation Certification is graciously granted. While individuals in love with the more rough and tumble gonzo takes on porn will find this to be the Victoria's Secret of sex films, Inside Myself is high end, soft-hardcore at its very best. Ninn is truly a master of camera and composition and his mythos is well deserved. And like any brand name in development, you always know what you're getting in a Ninn Worx Project: great visuals, great looking actors and great action. Do your own self a favor and visit Anais's inner world and workings. You'll be glad you did.